MAIASP. 2021. No. 13

Michael Nosonovsky (Milwaukee, USA)

Hebrew gravestone inscriptions from Jewish cemeteries in the Raysn region (Belarus and Ukraine)

DOI: 10.53737/2713-2021.2021.25.38.036

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Pages: 954970

Hebrew gravestone inscriptions from Jewish cemeteries from the region called Raysn (mostly in current Belarus and partially in Ukraine) are studied as a historical source and a literature genre. The epitaphs express the idea of a connection between the ideal world of Scripture and religious Hebrew books and the world of everyday life of a shtetl or community. This can be traced at several levels. First, at the level of inscriptions structure, the epitaph includes an indication of the place (here lies), time (date), and name, thus tying the deceased to a specific coordinate system. Second, biblical quotations emphasize the relation of a particular life and death to the situation with that described in the Bible. Third, at the language level, despite the fact that epitaphs are almost always written in Hebrew and not in Yiddish, we are dealing with certain features of HebrewYiddish bilingualism. Hebrew terms could simultaneously be Yiddish lexemes. We observe orthography code-switching between Hebrew consonant spelling and Yiddish phonetic spelling, depending on whether the concept is found in Hebrew holy books or in everyday life. Fourth, epitaphs occupy an intermediate position between the high, author's literature and canonical religion, on the one hand, and folk literature and religion, on the other hand. The difference between the epitaphs from Ukraine and Belarus is discussed.

Key words: history, epigraphy, East Europe, Hebrew inscriptions.

Received November 5, 2021

Accepted for publication November 21, 2021

About the author:

Nosonovsky Michael (Milwaukee, USA). PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee